KUALA LUMPUR: Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob said that the voting age for Malaysians will be lowered from 21 to 18 starting Jan 1 next year in accordance with the decision made by the Kuching High Court in Sarawak previously.

He said the Cabinet had decided not to appeal against the court's decision although the Election Commission had previously said in a statement that preparations to implement the move could only be made by September next year.

"When the courts make a decision, the government can appeal against it, but out of respect for our youth, the Cabinet has decided that we will not appeal the decision made by the Sarawak court.

"No appeal means the decision stays, and the deadline to implement Undi18 is on Dec 31. Come Jan 1, automatic registration for voters aged 18 will commence," he said during his speech at the 2022 National Youth Day celebrations here today.

Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Faizal Azumu was also present at the event.

For the record, the High Court in Kuching, Sarawak ordered the EC and the government to implement Undi18 by Dec 31 this year.

Judicial Commissioner Alexander Siew How Wai was reported to have made the decision after allowing the judicial review filed by five youth to compel the Federal Government to implement a Federal Constitution amendment relating to the lowering of voting age from 21 to 18.

He also granted the youths' application to get an order of certiorari to quash the decision of the respondents (the Prime Minister at the time, the Government and EC) to defer the implementation of Section 3 to after September 2022.

Elaborating, the prime minister said that the automatic voter registration will increase the number of voters aged 30 and below as of this Dec 31 to an estimated 3.9 million, out of which 1.3 million would be aged between 18 and 20.

He said the amendment to Article 119 of the Federal Constitution and the Youth Societies and Youth Development Act 2007 will bring the range of youth age from 15 to 40 years to 15 to 30 years which will be a new milestone for the country's leadership and the transition towards youth leadership.

"To show the government's belief in the ability of our youth to determine our country's leadership in the future, we will not only amend Undi18, but we will also ensure that the eligible age of election candidates will also be from age 18 and above in the amendment.

"So, youth leaders must be ready with talented youth leaders who can then contest in the upcoming general election," he said.